by: The SELEDA Shenkorit
I dozed off while perusing my uncle's wedding album during a recent trip to his house and had the most peculiar dream.
I was with my balebet (imaginary, of course) and our offspring, sporting a cute quncho. We were sitting in front of our shinkurt guleet in a Sunday market at Shiro Meda. He was holding his gabi over Mamush's and my head to protect us from the sun and dust.
He looked every part the loving and protective husband. Periodically I would get out from under the shade to rearrange the guleet and move a small shinkurt from one pile to another. He would chide me to get back in the shade. "Anchi setiyo, erefi esti". I'd move another shinkurt and brush some abuara from the side of the kesha we have laid out underneath.
"Hodiye, ebakish aref beyi." And he would reach over and pull me back into the shade. We would quietly discuss how Woizeryo Zenebu was raising the price of milk yet again just when we were thinking of buying new shoes for Mamush, lord knows the ones he wears now have more holes in them than Woizero Zenebu's reasoning for her price hike.
I look down at my feet, which, by the way, are screaming for a pedicure, and shake my head wondering how we will make it through the week. Balebet firmly says "Ayzosh, meTfo atasibi," as he brushes the flies that were sticking to Mamush's cheeks.
I look up to the street and see an old zebegna from my parent's house drive by. Woyine Egziabheriye, Gemechu is driving, albeit a VW bug from the 50s, and I'm sitting here trying to figure out how I can afford shera CHama for my Mamush who looks pathetic with all those flies and dust.
I feel like crying, but why? I have this loving man who's straining his arms trying to protect me from the sun. (We can't afford sunscreen – the thought actually went through my head and depressed me even more) We have this cute little Mamush, and we look like a family straight out of a "Rockwell does Ethiopia" painting. Just an average, loving, decent Ethiopian family working hard to stay afloat.
I have a flashback of a debate I had with some friends who insisted that finances had as much if not more important role as love in building a good marriage. I had disagreed. All I need is love. What do you want out of life? I had answered "Fiqir ena desta". Money is nothing to me.
I woke up in a cold sweat, but started to calm down as I looked around my uncle's comfortable guestroom. After a few seconds of hesitation, I pulled my feet out of my slippers to confirm that it all had been a horrible dream. I went down to the kitchen and poured myself a tall glass of milk from the well-stocked fridge. I looked at the glass and took a sip, and then I remembered I hate milk. I don't know why I poured it but I couldn't get myself to throw it out. I curse Woizero Zenebu, whoever she is, and continue sipping it.
These days, I'm obsessed with my finances and my money, my stocks, my bonds, my savings account, I find myself just staring at my ATM card once in a while, and even though I can't remember any of my friends' phone numbers, I can rattle off my E-trade password backwards, in my sleep. Money has never preoccupied me as much in recent memory. All through college and beyond, I've always held a job and managed to pay for everything I needed. I can deal with these responsibilities, and not only that: I like having them. It is not that I like paying bills but I enjoy knowing that I can take care of myself and don't need the support of anyone else.
But ever since I started thinking about marriage and settling down, suddenly money is beTam important. My biggest money headaches are not just about how I can afford a pair of Blahniks this quarter, but how my money will take care of me if, twenty years from now, Mr. Right turns out to be Mr. I'm-losing-my-hair-hence-I- gotta - go-chase-the-mender-koreda- to compensate- for- my- slipping- testosterone- level. I shudder at the thought of having to pay him alimony, but it kills me to think I might have to be the one depending on him. And going outside just my pride, I also never want to be in a position where Mamush or Mamitu's footwear is dependent on the price of dairy or Woizero Z's mood.
The ideal situation, of course, is to make a match where the combination of both parties' financial standing creates a synergistic effect. I am sure everyone has these concerns about financial security and independence but there is a degree of complacency about the whole thing in that often people don't question the validity or relevance of it to a happy, and stress free union.
More than one million marriages are terminated EVERY YEAR. That is 2 – "till death do us parts" – biting the dust every minute. One should look into getting every imaginable cushion before taking the jump.
When my mom's friends ask me when I am getting married, I have taken to telling them 'Egziabher yawqal'. One lady called me on it the other day, 'Minun?'… Well, when my portfolio can support four more people.
Hold on a second, my Yahoo ticker is giving me bad news.
Oufffff! At this rate, I ain't never getting married!